Interesting article about cooking and kitchens, then and now.
Thanks for the link. I’ve done sales and marketing for the kitchen and bath industry for 22 years. Mostly for cabinet manufactures and recently specialty countertops. We have always considered ourselves part of the fashion industry. People don’t replace their kitchens because they don’t work. They replace them because they don’t look good anymore.
I think this article hit a lot of good points. The recent tick up in small appliances and toy’s is because people are not remolding their kitchen like they did during the housing bubble. Our sales are off 50% from 2005. All you have to do is look at all the cooking shows to understand why people want all the toys that they’ll never use. People that can cook from scratch, can do it in a campsite if they have to.
People have home freezers because of the huge growth in the frozen food industry in the fifties, and now Costco. The post WW2 superannuation of this country has a huge roll in what our kitchens look like and what we eat, even today.
The Frankford Kitchen is a topic of conversation in all my trade magazines this month. It’s being parsed for being small with a lot of function. Are we going back to that? Well, we are defiantly going back to smaller kitchens that are functional for today’s life style. Big luxury kitchen are not on to many peoples radar right now but a 300.00 coffee maker is within reach.
Marketing to from scratch home chefs is not the same as marketing to garden variety foodies (I hate that word) People that know how to cook don’t need tricks so they’re a hard sell. People that want to learn how to be a good cook will fall for almost anything believing that it will raise the bar. I had an instructor when I was in kitchen design school that said. “ There’s only one new must have kitchen gadget in the past 100 years. The Microwave”
Well, for those of us old farts that loved cooking, specialty appliances, and tools before all this was "popular" or some type of status symbol - I say it's great! My friends think I am prophetic and my children think I am getting smarter every year :)
True story: Just two years ago I told my 20 something girls that since I had two full Le Creuset cookware sets, they could each inherit one! I was pleased with that thought...but they had that *fake smile* plastered on their faces, you know, the one that is "polite" but not sincere. They both said that they already had "pots and pans" but of course they would appreciate them anyway.
Well, fast forward to now...both have gotten excited about food as a "hobby"..."Ummm, mom, did you say Le Creuset?" .....Like the kind on the cooking shows????? "Seriously?' "When did we get those?" :D
McArdle tells the truth, so it's not very surprising some here might deny it or engage in unflattering amounts of hypocrisy and self-justification criticizing her. Knives truly are like golf clubs for many guys--just check out the knife fanboy blathering in the CH Cookware forum. I'm weary of the fetishism around food and the associated gear, not to mention kitchen decor elevated to absurd heights. Friends go on ad nauseum about the proper knife to bone a leg of lamb and what roasting pan is best but none could actually do the job. I'm tired of pedantic poseurs. So is McArdle.
Thanks for the fun article, though it pretty much states the obvious. I could (should!) write a book on all of the amazingly stupid, overwrought kitchens I've endured as a caterer. The first one was thirty years ago, in a remodel that cost $100,000 -- not small coin at that time -- and the refrigerator was a good 50 feet from the stove. What the ----? More than a few people have been proud to show me their Viking stoves that had NEVER been turned on. Don't get me started on the newer kitchens of the last decade or so. Last year I was in a home where no one, not the homeowners, not myself nor my crew, could figure out how to turn on the damn oven. It required something like 18 computer prompts.
My kitchen has exactly 49 square feet of floor space. I have more counter space and storage space than I need to turn out a party for 100 people. There is a broom closet where I store my large pots, mixer and food processor, four built-in bookshelves that are used for books (imagine!) and a pull out counter top which expands my already generous space with 5 feet more prep room. Everything is within arm's reach, so I can work quickly and efficiently, and not exhaust myself. When I needed to replace my stove, I looked at those high end beauties and carefully considered my options. Price was not an issue. I opted for a $900 convection gas GE, with three large racks and a warming oven, figuring that with the amount I would be using it, if it busted I could easily replace it. It is indestructible and going strong 10 years later. My refrigerator is huge, and only 24 inches deep. My kitchen is not beautiful, but I love it. Bah humbug.
I have about 64 sq. ft. in my kitchen and an old O'Keefe and Merrit stove from the ~50's , and frankly it's one of the best kitchens I have ever worked in. The nice thing is that there's a dining nook for guests to sit at when I am entertaining, and it also doubles as an extra work area in busy times.
I don't think I would ever go back to the large kitchen where you spend more time running around than you do cooking.
This also means I have a lot less stuff than most, like no microwave and no kitchen aid mixer. in my case less is more.
I saw the Frankfurt kitchen at teh Frankfurt museum. It was a very efficient space. I liked it.
I had trouble getting past this line, "I am hardly alone; almost everyone I know seems to have the KitchenAid mixers and Cuisinarts they got for their wedding still sitting in their boxes, to emerge at Thanksgiving, if ever."
It becomes hard for to focus on what the subject of the article is supposed to be and instead I focus on how wealthy and spoiled her "crew" is. Mind you, it is not the wealth that bothers me, but, how often it is "invested".
And the authors always seem to think that there is some sort of redeeming value in stated thoughts like, "...well, at least we are not as bad as some of our friends.".
These ideas are not hip, or chic, or charming...they are just self-involved. Childish. They think that they are being cute and charming and it is really off-putting.
I am always at a loss for coming up with a good definition for "Humanism" and "Humanisitic", but, whatever it is, that author is the opposite.
Maybe I will go back and read the rest of the article, but, I am not sure why.